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Coroner calls for licence suspensions for Quebec drivers who don't wear seat belts


A Quebec coroner is recommending temporary licence suspensions for drivers who are caught not wearing a seat belt.

The recommendation comes after the death of Felix Demers-Dube, who was killed in a crash in the Montérégie region in early 2022. The 25-year-old wasn't wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.

In his report, Coroner Rudi Daelman says the young man's death was preventable.

According to the Sûreté du Québec, 20 per cent of victims in fatal vehicle collisions in Quebec in 2023 were not wearing a seat belt. A year earlier it was 30 per cent.

The coroner recommended changes to the Highway Safety Code for violators to have their licences suspended for three 3 months.

Currently, a person can receive fines up to $300 and three demerit points for not wearing a seat belt.

André Durocher, CAA Quebec's director of community relations and road safety, says at one point Quebec had very high seat belt compliance.

"So maybe, wrongfully, we said, 'OK, job done,'" he said in an interview, adding that for stricter measures to work, awareness and education are key.

"It is a measure, not necessarily the measure, but nevertheless I think beforehand, in order to gain social acceptance of the measure, you have to do education upfront," Durocher said.

He recommends making sure the message is targeting the right people.

Even the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, apologized last summer after social media posts showed her not wearing a seat belt in a vehicle on several occasions.

Quebec's automobile insurance board, the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), says its latest data shows seat belt use in Quebec at 99 per cent, adding it's not planning to act on the coroner's recommendation short-term.

"Immediate licence suspensions provided for in the Highway Safety Code are aimed at behaviours that increase the risk of collisions, which is not the case for failure to wear a seat belt," the SAAQ said in a statement to CTV News.

The insurance board says it will ask police forces to pay extra attention to seat belts during future road safety operations, though Durocher says those campaigns can be difficult. Many vehicles have tinted windows, making it difficult to see inside, particularly in the back.

The SAAQ also adds it may develop a seat belt awareness campaign. Top Stories

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